Female engineers’ challenge: Meeting a dress code made for men
Of course, the dress code varies among engineering fields. However, it always nails down to the same point: Whoever is the client, the client still expects a guy to show up. While you can’t and don’t want to meet that expectation, you at least want to meet the dress code as a female engineer on all other points.
Think of meeting with clients or customers for the first time like dressing to a job interview in a conservative field. Being a bit overdressed at a job interview will be interpreted as respect.
Business attire, business casual to casual dress codes exist
How stiff (business attire – think suit and tie) or casual the expected look is, depends on the engineering field, the service the company/agency offers, and the size of that company/agency, and even on the climate of the region you have to work in. The bigger the company, the less casual. The higher up you are in the hierarchy of any big company, the less casual will be your outfit. The more hands-on outside work is involved in your job, the more casual is the allowed work gear. It can even nail down to an overall with hard hat on an oil platform in summer.When dressing as a female engineer keep in mind the engineering work is the product your employer sells. #womenengineer Click To Tweet
How to meet the dress code expectations
The trick is toTranslate the company's dress code to female pieces that won't hinder doing the work like your male colleague does. #womenengineer Click To Tweet
Here is a list of tips how to fit in dress code wise. Here is how the advice above plays out:
- Expectations: Looking like a business man, i.e. suit, shirt, polished shoes, leather briefcase, tie and tie holder. Women engineer: Show up in a tailored (wool) suit, button-down tailored shirt or solid color tailored blouse, polished lace-up oxfords shoes or zipper booties, structured leather tote large enough to hold a tablet, laptop or whatever you need to schlep, and neckerchief or short statement necklace or short pearl necklace (when you know you won’t have to climb equipment or a ladder). Stick to neutral colors of your palette except for accessories. Avoid any extreme trendy colors like neon-whatever, ultra-whatever.
- When you work in a lab and the dress code is a lab coat, get one that’s tailored for women. Wear the female equivalent of what the male colleagues wear underneath your lab coat. When there is a meeting, dress like your male colleagues, but with the respective female item equivalent.
- If meeting doesn’t involve being outside or climbing equipment and the dress code is suit, a classic skirt suit is ok.
- If meeting doesn’t involve being outside or climbing equipment and the dress code is business casual, an unmatched skirt suit with a button-down shirt is ok as well as dark denim with a button-down shirt and tailored wool blazer.
- Dress code: Coat or trench coat. Female engineer: Wear a short classic coat like a pea-coat or a short thigh-length trench coat. They permit climbing equipment/ladders.
- When you need extra height to get into eye contact with your male colleagues or clients try a thicker sole (0.5 inch, 1.3 cm) with an 1.25 inch (3.2 cm) heel or wedges not higher than 2 inch (5 cm).
- Expectation: Jeans and sweater in winter, jeans or chinos with shirt in summer. Women engineer: Go for a turtle or crew neck sweater in silk or cashmere (winter), slightly tailored button down shirt (summer). Dark deinm straight jeans, slacks or chinos.
- Dress code (typically unwritten): Short hair. Women engineer: Have a hair cut or hair-do. Low ponytail like Kate Middleton, lob, bob, pixie, or shag are chic options. Also look at female soldiers’ hair cuts for great field practical options.
- Dress code: Engineering boots. Go for them, they are so cool and chic.
For further tips to dress for success in engineering see this slide show:
When you like the advice how to dress as a female engineer and want more recipes for dressing for success buy my style recipe book now.
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